World Textiles : A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques, Paperback

World Textiles : A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


All textiles epitomize the cultures that make them, from the silk brocade saris of India to North American patchwork quilts.

Interestingly, societies separated by vast distances have developed similar solutions to design and construction while producing a dazzling diversity of styles.

This is the first book to illustrate (in nearly 800 sumptuous colour photographs and drawings) the whole range of traditional handmade textiles from all over the globe, classified by materials and technique rather than age or country.

Eight sections cover all aspects of production, each giving a summary of characteristics, making and geographical distribution.

Every kind of textile is covered: non-loom and loom-woven, painted and printed, dyed, sewn, embroidered and embellished.

Completed by a glossary, further reading and information on collections with public access, this is an unrivalled guide for anyone interested in collecting or making and designing textiles.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240 pages, 778 illustrations, 551 in colour
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Needlework & fabric crafts
  • ISBN: 9780500282472



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I had no particular interest in textiles until my collecting of traditional handicrafts during my travels led me to pick up some made by various tribes, creating instant fascination. There was a whole new world for me, and while I started recognizing particular touches, I couldn't fathom the technical aspect. In parallel, I was researching ethnic dress and frequently came across descriptions of textiles that didn't ring any bells. And then I found this wonderful book... Every kind of textile ever made on the planet is covered. The eight sections cover respectively: Materials (from skin to leaf fibres), non-loom textiles (crochet, braids, lace...), Loom-woven textiles (from tabby weave to tablet weaving), Dyes (meanign dyeing techniques such as wax-resist, etc), Sewing (sewed ornaments such as appliqué, etc), Embroidery (different types of stitches) and Embellishment (from metal thread to feathers). The table of contents alone is breathtaking, and the book then proceeds with abundant illustrations taken from around the globe. Each spread treats of one technique, and along with the photos is a diagram that explains better than 1000 words the technical aspect, for instance the relationship between weft and warp in loom-woven textiles. The publication is both beautiful and enlightening, an exploration of techniques but also of cultural preferences, and a source of inspiration for textiles artists and fashion designers as well as fantasy world-builders. One only regrets that only one spread is dedicated to each technique, but let's be fair: the book achieves exactly what it meant to achieve, and that's over 100 techniques – taking up more space would make it of another scope and budget. It's surprisingly affordable for such an all-inclusive, richly illustrated volume. And I now feel a lot less dumb on the subject of textiles.

Also by John Gillow